BEIRUT: Holding up a gruesome image of a child slain in Tripoli, Social Affairs Minister Wael Abou Faour vowed Tuesday to pursue the culprits who killed two youths in the city’s latest clashes – starting by filing a lawsuit against the perpetrators.
The image, published Monday by local newspapers, shows a child who was killed by sniper fire lying limp in the cab of a truck, his blood dripping down the door of the vehicle.“How do we protect our children?” Abou Faour asked an anxious room of NGO workers and journalists during a news conference at the Social Affairs Ministry Tuesday. “Someone needs to take the first step.”
“I will fight until the very end,” the minister added.
Abou Faour announced that he was filing a lawsuit against the perpetrators through the public prosecutor, as the investigation into the incidents – which killed 16-year-old Mohammad al-Mohammadein Saturday and 12-year-old Hussein al-Jundi Sunday – gets under way. The lawsuit would punish the culprits under Article 548 of the Penal Code.
“As the head of the Higher Council for Childhood, I will personally file a lawsuit against the killing of children in Tripoli,” the minister said.
“While the perpetrator is unknown, those who give the orders are known and there is no difference between field commanders and their bosses,” Abou Faour said.
Lebanon’s northern capital has been the scene of increasing violence since the conflict in Syria broke out two years ago, and this week – after a total of 13 deaths from gunbattles – the clashes escalated to the point that the state put the city under Army control.
Among some of the most vulnerable victims are children, many of whom go about their everyday lives at great risk and fear.
“We think of explosions as happening in other countries like Iraq, but it’s happening here in Lebanon,” the minister said, referring to the growing level of political violence, including a series of explosions that have occurred in this country over the past year.
In addition to filing the lawsuit, Abou Faour told The Daily Star that he had also spoken with the interior minister to see about providing extra protection for Lebanese schools, as many schoolchildren tend to stay home during clashes in Tripoli, resulting in a high rate of school drop-outs.
Jundi, the 12-year-old whose picture prompted Tuesday’s meeting at the ministry, was on his way to deliver scrap metal – a job locals say he was even doing in the middle of the day on school days – when he was killed by sniper fire.
The minister noted that Lebanon’s northern capital was the poorest area in the country – with a total of 4,279 families living under the poverty line, including 3,122 in Tripoli and 1,157 in Al-Mina.
“This is a crime. Two kids are dead,” the minister said. “This is what I’m concentrating on.”